Violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims in India has persisted for just over a century. Yet, the phenomenon has received far too little attention by political scientists, journalists, and Indian policymakers, who have almost exclusively focused on Hindu-Muslim violence. Continued neglect and delay in devising creative interventions aimed at reducing sectarian conflict could jeopardize the social cohesion of India, which will have more Muslims than any other country by the 2020s.
Society & Culture
Discussions of wealth inequality are now in vogue following the global financial crash of 2007 and Thomas Piketty’s best-selling Capital. This is a welcome departure from the exclusive focus on poverty using calculations based on consumption surveys. Wealth is crucial for consumption smoothing and acts as a buffer to draw upon during times of distress. In many ways, wealth is more aligned with the concept of wellbeing than income or consumption. Wealth is also recognized for its role in creating opportunities for future generations.
Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake on April 25th, and aftershocks – including a powerful one on May 12th – have continued to rock the country. Over eight thousand people have died. Over 600,000 houses are completely destroyed or partially damaged. Eight million people have been affected in some shape or form. Thousands of school buildings lie in ruins. Kathmandu has lost much of its cultural heritage. The tragedy is just unending, as millions remain homeless with monsoon season four weeks away. There is a resource crunch and supplies of essentials are inadequate.
A toxic mix of hypocrisy, amnesia, opportunism, ignorance, and paternalism has led to a mess on land acquisition legislation. The BJP is finding it difficult to gather enough support to pass its amendment to the Congress-made law and has begun sending mixed signals—maybe they will hold a joint session of parliament to hash this out; maybe they will reissue the ordinance that it tried to turn into an amendment; maybe the states can pick and choose, maybe they don’t have to adhere to the parts of the amended law they don’t like.
Two decades ago, a dramatic shift took place in the rules governing the provision of piped municipal water supply in Mumbai. In this shift, access to municipal water for residents of the city’s popular neighborhoods and “slums” became linked to the rules governing eligibility for inclusion in slum rehabilitation housing schemes.
On May 26, 2014, Narendra Modi invited the heads of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries to his swearing-in ceremony. While this important gesture could have marked a new beginning for regional cooperation, such cooperation in South Asia still takes place mainly in the bilateral sphere. Since 1985, India has been a key founding member of four regional initiatives, none of which have achieved any tangible results.
Near the end of President Obama’s recent visit to India, he recorded a radio broadcast with Prime Minister Modi. On the air, Obama indicated a desire to work on public health issues in India once his term ends. One of the issues he referred to, in particular, was obesity, a growing health challenge worldwide. Obesity contributes to several non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that have been garnering more international attention. NCDs refer to health challenges that are largely chronic, evolve gradually, and get progressively worse until tackled.
Is NREGS suffering a mid life crisis or are we staring at its death? From a budget of INR 401 Billion in 2010-11, it has plummeted to INR 330 Billion in 2013-2014. Given the much higher wages currently offered to workers, it has taken a serious hit. The position taken by government officials (and many economists) is that there is a general lack of interest in NREGS. The rise in agricultural real wages over the period 2004-05 to 2011-12, coupled with a general dismay regarding quality of assets produced and evidence of corruption, has led to a call for a scaling down of NREGS.
In a recent New York Times article, Pankaj Mishra painted a portrait of the modern Hindu Indian psyche in colors of “victimhood and chauvinism,” arguing that “many ambitious members of a greatly expanded and fully global Hindu middle class feel frustrated in their demand for higher status from white Westerners.” Mishra’s controversial statement is apt not just for its description of contemporary politics, but also because it captures something more ingrained and enduring in the Indian psyche.
In the last couple of decades, the number of two-way commuters between rural and urban areas on a daily basis has seen an explosive growth. This includes a large number of workers engaged in menial service sector jobs who do not have a fixed place of work. One could go out on a limb and claim that migration is passé and commuting is chic, but the time has come for conversations on labor mobility to move beyond one that is migration centric to one that also includes commuting.